January 13, 2003
CONNECTICUT VOYEURISM LAWS
By: Susan Price-Livingston, Associate Attorney
You asked about Connecticut's voyeurism and “Peeping Tom” laws.
A person is guilty of voyeurism when he knowingly photographs, films, videotapes, or otherwise records another person's image without that person's knowledge and consent under the following circumstances. The actor must be motivated by either (1) malice or (2) an intent to satisfy or arouse his or another person's sexual desires. The filming must be of someone who is not in plain view and under the circumstances has a reasonable expectation of privacy. This offense is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a prison term of up to one year, a fine of up to $2,000, or both (CGS § 53a-189a).
It is a more serious crime to disseminate one of these images when the disseminator (1) knows that it was obtained in this manner and (2) does not have the subject's permission. This offense is a class D felony punishable by a prison term of up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both (CGS § 53a-189b).
Legislation enacted in 2001 extends the crime of disorderly conduct (CGS § 53a-182) to so-called “Peeping Toms” who trespass (illegally come onto property, but have no intent to harm) and observe someone inside a dwelling. It gives “dwelling” the same meaning it has in the burglary statutes (i.e., a building usually occupied by a person lodging therein at night). The observation must occur (1) without the observed person's
consent, (2) while the subject is not in plain view, and (3) under circumstances where he has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The law exempts casual or cursory observations (PA 01-83).
Disorderly conduct is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months in prison, a fine of up to $500, or both.
Victims of voyeurism or peeping tom activities could probably also sue the offender for invasion of privacy, but we found no reported Connecticut case. OLR Report 2000-R-0498 describes the possible civil claims in more detail.